Cantu Body May Be Exhumed

Judge refuses ruling on request

A judge refused to rule on a request to have a second autopsy done on 8-year-old Sandra Cantu.

The decision was made as 4,000 people mourned young Cantu, who was found stuffed in a suitcase in an irrigation pond 10 days after she disappeared from her Tracy mobile home.
Melissa Huckaby's attorney, Sam Behar, requested the exhumation so the defense team could conduct their own autopsy.

Huckaby is charged with kidnapping, raping and killing Sandra.

San Joaquin County Superior Court Presiding Judge William J. Murray Jr. said he would not make a final determination on Behar's motion, because that decision rests with the judge assigned to the case, the Stockton record reported.

Behar says a second exam of the body is necessary because the initial autopsy was done without Huckaby's best interest represented.

"Every hour is critical," Behar told the judge, adding that he's worried Sandra's body is deteriorating. "Any delay will be prejudicial to my client."

Behar is particurlarly interested in the analysis of  "genital trauma" that the autopsy indicates Sandra suffered. The findings support lewd and lascivious acts on a child and sexual penetration charges, which make Huckaby eligible for the death penalty if she is convicted.

The district attorney, Thomas Testa, argued against disturbing Sandra's body, which was entombed Wednesday at the Tracy Mausoleum.

"It's obscene. I'm outraged by it," Testa told the judge. "Let me have my detectives here, my doctor here, (Sandra's) family here."

Behar has two options: to make his case before the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal or to wait for next Friday's scheduled hearing in Stockton.


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Many of the people who attended the public service for Sandra Cantu Thursday  at a local high school gymnasium -- some wearing T-shirts with Sandra's face -- wiped tears from their eyes as family members and community leaders remembered an exuberant, loving second-grader who screamed with joy when she rode the Matterhorn roller coaster at Disneyland and enjoyed skipping down the city's streets.

Images of Sandra marking the milestones of an 8-year-old -- graduating from preschool, blowing out birthday candles, opening Christmas presents -- played on two screens.

"She had arms of an angel gently giving you a hug," said Sandra's aunt, Angie Chavez, reading a poem she wrote from a lectern behind a large portrait of Sandra. "When she told you I love you, on your heart she would tug."

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